More than P25 million in income could be earned by the 12 cooperators in the mangrove crab nursery project turned over by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) last week.
This is the rosy projection of agency officials led by BFAR National Director Eduardo Gondona and Regional Director Nelson Bien, who joined Governor Joseph Cua and Catanduanes State University (CatSU) President Patrick Alain Azanza in the ceremonial stocking of mangrove crab instars at the Palnab Brackishwater Demonstration Fish Farm and Nurseries in Palnab Del Sur, Virac last March 8, 2022.
“Ang kasaganahan ng mangrove crablets sa Catanduanes ay dahil sa mayabong na mangrove forest, kaugnay nito ay ang pagtalaga ng Catanduanes Crab Center na titiyak sa sustenableng produksyon sa crablet industry ng probinsya,” said Gongona in his message. “Ang hakbang na ito ay ating kontribusyon tungo sa patuloy na pagpapaunlad ng produksyon ng sektor ng pangisdaan.”
Later, Dir. Bien and Pres. Azanza signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to cement the collaborative partnership in the institutionalization of the Fishery Technology Hub at Palnab BDFFBN.
The Palnab facility is one of the 12 mangrove crab nurseries established under Republic Act 10857, which seeks to arrest the decline in production and provide stronger support to the mangrove crab industry in the province and the region.
The 2016 law sought to establish mangrove crab seed banks, nurseries and grow-out production farms in 10 of the 11 towns of Catanduanes, described by BFAR in its briefing as a biodiversity hotspot.
Abundant mangrove forests with a total area of 1, 421 hectares made the island the most prominent source of wild crablets, a resource that has been heavily exploited through permitted export and smuggling to other regions.
This led to the creation of the Catanduanes Crab Center to serve as source of crablets for grow-out and fattening and ensure the sustainability of the crablet industry in the province, which originally owned the title “Crab Capital of the Philippines.”
Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) from 2009 to 2020, however, showed that from its peak of almost 120,000 metric tons in 2013, the annual mangrove crab production declined to 96 MT by 2016 before plunging to less than 20 MT a year later.
This is equivalent to a 450-percent decrease in production in just four years, from which the local crab industry has yet to recover.
Under RA 10857, the Department of Agriculture (DA) initially released through BFAR the P6-million funding for the establishment of 12 crab nurseries with a total area of 65,000 square meters as well as the techno-demonstration hub project.
The operators of the crab nurseries are Salvador Tulay (Bagamanoc), Alfred Aquino (Panganiban), Jojay Granada, Bernardo Santelices, Rhonel Castillo, Jose Alberto III, Roberto Taopo, Emily Tomagan-Bosquillos, LGU-Provincial Demonstration Fish Farm and Nursery (DFFN), Palnab Brackishwater DFFN, and CatSU Panganiban Campus.
According to Catanduanes Provincial Fishery Officer Jorge Camacho, the funding was released to the BFAR regional office, with the project costing P5 million for the repair and rehabilitation of 12 sites for the mangrove crab nursery and P1 million as operating cost of the techno-demo project.
Prior to the bidding, the Catanduanes PFO coordinated with the local government units, with the regional office securing data from the cooperators for the development of their ponds which ranged in size from just 2,000 square meters to 10,000 square meters.
The lone winner handled the pond development at the 12 sites, with BFAR personnel providing technical extension services. The rehabilitation of the proposed sites began in the last quarter of 2021, he said, and the completed project was turned over to the cooperators last week.
According to the economic analysis of the project, the total 650,000 pieces of instar used as stock for each of the three cycles per year, using a 65% survival rate, would produce a total of 1,267,500 pieces of crablets.
This is almost 90% of the yearly requirement of crablets for pond operators in Catanduanes.
At the price per crablet of P25, this translates into a gross income of P31,687,500.00 and, minus the operational cost of P5,868,369.95, would yield a net income of P25,819,130.05, the analysis showed.
To ensure the sustainability of the project, BFAR will organize the recipients to strengthen their market linkages so they can supply even the mainland provinces of Bicol.
During the same event, the fishery bureau awarded livelihood assistance in the form of nets, boats, engines, aquaponics and postharvest equipment to LGUs, fisherfolk organizations and a high school in Virac.
Also present during the awarding rites at the CatSU Auditorium were Congressman Hector Sanchez, Catanduanes police director Col. Benjamin Balingbing Jr., provincial fisherfolk leader Jose Nelmar Panti Jr., and some local officials.
The 11 LGUs as well as the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAg) received a total of 200,000 pieces of tilapia fingerlings, which BFAR said would produce 40,000 kilograms of fish worth P4.8 million.
Nine sets of marine engines and bottom set gill nets were provided to Binanuahan Fisherfolk Organization, Bote Fisherfolk Organization, Cabcab Fisherfolk Organization, Sagrada Fisherfolk Association, Sagrada Moning Fisherfolk Association, Maculiw Fisherfolk Association, Tobacada Fisherfolk Association, Jesli Camacho and Pablito Tuonan.
The equipment would bring an estimated 2,112 kilos of fish catch annually worth P338,000.00, BFAR said.
Three sets of fiberglass boats and bottom set gill nets were awarded to Carorian Fisherfolk, Tambuena Fisherfolk Association, and Franklin Zafe, who stand to catch 3,960 kilos of fish in a year values at P633,600.00.
The same catch is expected for Joseph Borja and Vicente Sta. Inez, who each received a 22-footer fiberglass boat worth P43,765.00.
On the other hand, 25 units of bottom set gill nets were handed over to San Andres Tuna Fisherfolk Association, Samahan ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Baras, Danao Fisherfolk Association, Rolando Reyes, Ibong Sapa Fisherfolk Association, San Vicente Fisherfolk Association, Palnab Fisherfolk Association, Kimuel Borja, Salvador Beo, Romeo Camacho, Supang Fisherfolk Association, Mabini Fisherfolk Association, Pandan Fishermen Association, Bagatabao Fisherfolk Association, Hinipaan Fishermen Association, and Asosasyon nin mga Paradagat sa Gigmoto.
The individual fishermen were those who survived mishaps at sea last year during inclement weather or typhoons.
One such net would bring in four kilos of fish per day for 22 operating days per month, BFAR estimated.
Twenty crab pots were awarded to Mario Visaya, who stands to catch 240 kilos of crabs per year for each pot.
The Magnesia National High School, whose campus includes brackish water ponds and a freshwater pond, was awarded an Aquaponic unit which could produce 50 kilos of hito and 50 kilos of lettue per unit for each cropping.
All told, the BFAR stated, the livelihood interventions it brought to Catanduanes would contribute over 51 metric tons to the island’s annual fish production or an equivalent of P6.7 million in revenue.
On the other hand, the San Andres Tuna Fishers Association also received postharvest equipment consisting of weighing scales, vacuum sealer, cooler boxes, clear PE bags, stackable plastic crates and an impulse sealer while the CFLC Associations in Baras and Bato towns were given two units of smoke house and drying house.